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Rian Johnson is a controversial figure among Star Wars fans. Some felt his take on the saga – The Last Jedi – was a breath of fresh air.

Others thought it trampled on the classics that came before it. Whatever your opinion on his film, one thing is for sure: Johnson possesses a healthy respect for the filmmaker who laid the foundation for the series. Johnson was very complimentary of George Lucas and his prequel trilogy, and he communicated his respect in less than 280 characters. Let’s take a closer look at his role in the Star Wars universe and what he said about Lucas and the prequels. 

‘Star Wars’ films are separated into three distinctive eras

There are three groups of Star Wars films that exist, at least in terms of the Skywalker saga. Rogue One and Solo take place in the same universe but focus on different characters outside the main storyline. The three eras of films are: 

  • The original trilogy. These were Lucas’s original films that started the phenomenon. They came out between 1977-1983 and are widely regarded as some of the best action/sci-fi films of all time. 
  • The prequel trilogy. 16 years after his Return of the Jedi, Lucas released a new trilogy. Premiering from 1999-2005, this series centered on Darth Vader before he became Darth Vader, chronicling his slow descent into darkness. 
  • The sequel trilogy. In 2012, Lucas sold his production company – and the rights to Star Wars – to the Disney Corporation. They put a new trilogy into production. These films came out between 2015-2019 and were set 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi. They featured many of the original characters, though they were much older at this point. 

Each series has differed stylistically, but one constant has remained: each one was ultra-successful at the box office. 

How Rian Johnson flipped ‘Star Wars’ on its head with ‘The Last Jedi’

Rian Johnson
Rian Johnson | Rich Polk/Getty Images for IMDb

Johnson directed The Last Jedi, the film that came out in 2017 as the middle edition of the sequels. It challenged many Star Wars’ fans preconceptions about the series in many ways. For one, it turned Luke into a much different character. Rather than being the brave, noble Jedi we last saw in Return of the Jedi, Luke was a hermit in hiding. Ashamed at the role he played in Ben Solo’s turn to the dark side, he began the film not wanting to get involved in the war between the Resistance and the First Order. 

Johnson received plenty of backlash online, though many others enjoyed his new take on Star Wars. Haters thought it betrayed the original character of Luke Skywalker. Those who enjoyed it thought it showed Luke’s ability to develop as a character. 

Johnson praised the ‘Star Wars’ prequels


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Johnson’s take on Star Wars was radically different from the style seen in Lucas’s prequels. That said, Johnson seemed to very much appreciate what Lucas did with those also controversial films. When a Twitter user asked his followers to “Say a genuinely nice thing about the prequels,” Johnson responded with this: 

“Lucas made a gorgeous 7 hour long movie for children about how entitlement and fear of loss turns good people into fascists, and did it while spearheading nearly every technical sea change in modern filmmaking of the past 30 years.”

Johnson is nothing like Lucas as a filmmaker, but that doesn’t mean he can’t value what Lucas did. The prequels have drawn plenty of criticism over the years, but you have to give credit to Lucas for having a singular vision and moving mountains to bring it to life.

The Star Wars prequels are an incredible achievement, and Johnson articulated exactly why they are.